I call this “Dad’s Tree” because it always reminds me of my Dad.
I’ve photographed this tree probably twenty times over the past few weeks. Ever since I saw the first bud emerge in mid January. Every time I see it whether in the early morning light, or dripping with rain, or late in the afternoon (just before sunset, like here), the tree looks different. The weather, which has been simply amazing the past few days is scheduled to change and get colder, so at 5:22 I rushed over to the store to see the flowering magnolia tree before the sun sets.
Today is the day it will make the blog.
And the reason it always reminds me of my Dad is because when he was visiting us, in February 2006 soon after Kate was born, he was fascinated by this tree and the early blossoms and was somehow drawn to it. He seemed to again connect with the world by seeing this tree.
Or perhaps it just struck him as odd because he was a midwestern boy and you just didn’t see such beauty back there until April or May, but certainly not February.
To give you a bit of backstory, Dad had suffered a stroke in 1999 so he was in need of constant care by my Mom. He was feeble then (and would pass away just a few months later, in July) yet something in the deep recesses of that mind continued to fascinate him about trees, plants and botanicals just like it always had since he was a kid and through his college years when he got a bachelor’s degree in horticulture. Even suffering brain damage from the stroke, his love of all things plants still came through. (If you go to the June entries in my old blog, and the July entry (near the end of the section) you can read a bit more about my Dad)
So every January and February when this flowering shrub next to the Albertson’s blossoms, I instantly think of Dad. It stops me and I reflect on this beautiful plant that is blossoming in what is surely the deadest of winter. And I continue to miss him.